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Deer Hour Gospel


It's always our sight that blocks us
                                                   from moving forward through
the prayer labyrinth, always our own prints that keep us
from retreating. In this hour the blind & the near-blind appearó

bats wheeling through the sundown milklight,
                                                                  moths tracing the sidereal paths
invisible in the airó
& the apparitions reappear in the treeline,
their dusk-brindled deerskins almost invisible in the white that bleeds through,

the white that flames their tails when they flee.
There are still services that offer silent prayer,
                                                                  their silent passing
& the wake they leave,
because there are cries that cannot be voiced,
                                                                 needs we cannot name.
And so we close our eyes when we pray to seek the blindness
that offers a window into the world,
                                                     & the world within this one,
sudden rain so fine it could be just a trick of the wind & the light,
                                                                                            there & gone,
as the deer move off, through the silky wilds
                                                                of Queen Anne's lace,
through clover scatter-brushed in the grasses,
the long grasses that hold the traces of their passing

for a moment only, & beneath the old pear trees
already heavy with their suns,
with the cities of clouds the caterpillars
have spun for their tombs
                                     as they move from this life & into the next one.
And we, with our rain-limned bodies, listening
for the echoes of our prayers to return,
to the aethereal bodies drifting so close
                                                       & out of sight,
listening hard for the sound of our own disappearance.


Mark Wagenaar

Voodoo Inverso
University of Wisconsin Press


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